Matthew Evans has had an ongoing relationship with SBS Food for more than a decade. He contributed to Feast magazine, created three-part series For The Love of Meat, made the eye-opening documentary What's The Catch? and, of course, is our all-time favourite Gourmet Farmer.
As well as providing thought-provoking commentary on the state of food in our nation, over the years Matthew has created almost three hundred treasured recipes for us. So, let's just say that choosing favourites has not been an easy task.
It simply wouldn't be a Matthew Evans recipe if it wasn't destined to gather a table of friends and family together.
A philosophy of abundance
To help us out, we decided to stick to Matthew's own food philosophy. Which means a focus on recipes that encourage us to grow as much of our own food as we can. For many with the means to do so, it might mean self-producing the bulk of a recipe's fruit and vegetables. For most of us, it means shopping carefully for sustainable ingredients at a trusted grocer, fishmonger or butcher.
Hopefully, for all of us, it can mean at least growing the abundant herbs Matthew uses in his recipe. And by all means, sharing the food we cook with others. It simply wouldn't be a Matthew Evans recipe if it wasn't destined to gather a table of friends and family together.
These are the recipes that taught us that we can cook pretty much anything from scratch, with a little Gourmet Farmer know-how.
If you can make pizza dough, with a little flour and yeast, you've got yourself a meal. This particular recipe makes the top of our favourites list because it's probably the easiest meal you'll ever pull together.
You'll need a good passata to go with that pizza dough, and Matthew shows the way. Tomatoes, and lots of them, are pureed and preserved to bring a little late summer magic to dishes all year 'round.
A recipe from Matthew's Feast magazine days, cornbread is such an easy bread to make. And also extremely delicious. Try it with one of these soups:
Fresh horseradish lifts this soup from the very good to the sublime. In its absence you could use a top-notch bottled version.
We like to get our own back on the weeds that invade our farm, and this soup is just the thing to pay back stinging nettles. You’ll need to use gloves and long sleeves and slacks when you harvest them and prepare them, but once cooked, they taste terrific and the sting is gone. In the absence of nettles, flavour the soup with spinach, silverbeet, or a smaller amount of sorrel.
Who knew haloumi was this easy to make? Oh, that sweet, squeaky giver of life. Thanks to Matthew, this is our "first cheese to try", with the understanding that we could go forth and make every other kind of cheese. We are so very clever. More secret haloumi conquering tips here:
Pickling of every kind is Matthew's kind of thing. This easy sauerkraut recipe is one he shared with us years ago and no doubt has been made millions of times, by thousands of different hands, since then.
The glut of zucchini has us using every trick in the book to try to preserve their delicate flavour. Fermenting extends their life, and keeps that ethereal flavour that is so readily lost when you pickle using vinegar.
When I first met my partner, Sadie, she didn’t let on that her family recipe for salted lime pickle was a thing of wonder. It was only after I wooed her for a few months that a small, unassuming jar of pickle was brought from the fridge and delivered with characteristic understatement. In it, I found a perfect accompaniment to curries. And now that the secret is out, Fat Pig Farm is happy to share the recipe with you, too.
You'll have a full heart to match a full stomach when you make one of these special meals for your people. Vegetarian options to follow...
This brisket, served with a giant plate of homemade veggies, feels like everything Matthew stands for. It's a low and slow kind of dish that uses a lesser-known cut of meat that seems to expand to feed the masses. We can smell the party already.
This Italian dish is made using the sliced shin of veal or beef, the name meaning literally ‘bone hole’ after the marrow bones you use. Essentially a lovely stew, the crowning glory is the zesty gremolata added at the end.
This low and slow stew suits Sadie's palate for Asian spices and Matthew's love of European food.
A barbie favourite that is literally packed with herbs and spice. The chilli paste is left to marinade overnight, resulting in fall-off-the-bone tender meat that packs a mean punch. On reflection, this jerk pork is rather aptly named...
This mussel paella makes us want to hire a boat and up anchor Gourmet Farmer Afloat-style. Failing that, a quick trip to the fishmonger and it's anchors away on a real crowd pleasing dish that takes no time at all.
In Italian, this dish translates to ‘spaghetti of the prostitute’. Perhaps it’s a cultural thing, but garlic, anchovies and capers don’t seem like the most obvious thing to eat before going to work. Or it could be that, historically, the name comes from the fact that this dish is very quick to cook and eat.
I’ve been inspired by Giovanni Pilu’s A Sardinian Cookbook to make a seafood soup with fregola – the island’s famed, small round pasta. You could use moghrabieh (Middle Eastern pearl couscous); just toast it in a dry pan first, swirling the pan the whole time over a medium–high heat. If you buy the vacuum-packed, cleaned clams, there’s no need to purge them.
This mussel paella makes us want to hire a boat and up anchor Gourmet Farmer Afloat-style.
The name alone makes us want to try this recipe. This is the first chicken dish Matthew cooked when he moved to Puggle Farm. It's fitting that his first dish should become an enduring favourite - consistency has always been his thing.
Bohémienne is a French tomato and eggplant casserole that feeds a crowd. Plonk it in the centre of the table with a basket of crusty bread and watch it contentedly disappear.
We've included this dish to showcase what Matthew does best: encouraging us to seek food that's a little left of our everyday centre. He's a true foodie who entices us to try every aspect of the food that's available to us. This recipe will have you Googling 'cotechino near me' within moments.
Goose meat is very rich, and there’s not a lot of meat on the birds, so I make sure there are plenty of vegetables on the side and plenty of roast skin on the bird.
Matthew Evans provides the rabbits for this traditional Greek recipe, wherein the meat is browned then slow-cooked with onion, garlic and spices, resulting in a richly flavoured stew.
Cassoulet is a bean dish that is heady with meats cooked or cured in different ways. On the show we used a home-kill lamb and goose, but you can adapt using your own meats. It’s a fantastic, must-share recipe that makes a lot, so use an enormous pot, or divide into two and keep one for another day.
All about the veggies
Matthew Evans is a proud veggie farmer, growing most of what he serves in his Fat Pig Farm restaurant and at his own table.
Our Gourmet Farmer extends his 'nose to tail' philosophy to eating the whole vegetable, too. As well as good-old garden spinach, this generous leafy greens pie is made with the tops of carrots, radishes and turnips, plus foraged nettles.
When we want to make a pot of goodness, Mathew's slow-cooked ratatouille is what we make.
Matthew is a man who simply loves cheese. His best friend and sometime business partner Nick Haddow owns Bruny Island Cheese Co, which makes the kind of Tasmanian cheese we would gladly move states for. While Nick doesn't make gorgonzola, we can still picture the pair of them sitting down to a meal of this rich pasta, as content as two Jersey cows in a clover field.
This recipe relies on the quality of the dough and the quality of the cheese, so don’t scrimp on either. Rough puff pastry is a lot easier to make than the conventional version, but is still light, puffy and deliciously buttery. In its absence, use a good store-bought butter puff pastry. Cheap pastry with margarine simply won’t taste anywhere near as nice. They’re best eaten the same day, but can be stored in an airtight container for a day or two.
I’ve been playing around with cauliflower since I was a boy, ever since a bloke named Norm showed me a simple way to serve this underrated winter veg. Here is my latest version.
While Nick doesn't make gorgonzola, we can still picture the pair of them sitting down to a meal of this rich pasta, as content as two Jersey cows in a clover field.
Slow-cooked hearty baked beans that are a world away from the insipid tinned variety. We'd happily make them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Make that breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Desserts for dinner
There's one more thing that Matthew Evans specialises in: stick-to-your-ribs cakes and bakes that are substantial enough to stand in for dinner.
We could write an entire round-up on Matthew's apple recipes, but here are a few stand outs. The boozy apple fritters are an unusual dessert, but definitely a must-try. Also stunning:
Homemade marzipan is a far cry from the artificial-tasting almond essence flavour that most of us grew up with.
It’s best to soak the saffron overnight to extract as much flavour as you can. With a pinch, you can do it for a few hours, or even heat the milk and saffron to speed up the process. You will need a 22 cm springform pan for this recipe.
You are not alone in wanting to dive straight into this yoghurt and raspberry cake.
You really can't beat fruit to end a meal... especially when buttery crumble is involved.
Notice the fruit-heavy deliciousness that is Matthew's choice of dessert? All part of his 'grow your own' food philosophy and a good reminder that you really can't beat fruit to end a meal... especially when buttery crumble is involved.
There are so many good cakes to choose from, but we couldn't resist this classic prize-winner. No, really, third place at the Bream Creek Show. Now that's worth bragging about.
You can watch all the Gourmet Farmer episodes on SBS On Demand here.
This pastry recipe makes an excellent short, savoury casing perfect for tartlets or pies, such as goat pies, or one of our favourites, this one, using leeks, eggs and bacon from the farm.
"The cheese, nuts and eggs in this tart contain all the protein you need for a great meat-free option. Spring garlic is the first garlic of the season, before the papery skin develops. If you can’t find spring garlic, you could use young leeks instead. Otherwise, regular garlic cloves will do – just make sure you peel them." Matthew Evans, For the Love of Meat
"Keema is a dish from the sub-continent often made with mutton. It can be served on rice, in samosas, and you’ll also find it served in buns on highways in India. I’ve added more vegetables to the mix here, which makes for a great pastie filling. If you don’t have time to make your own pastry, these are equally delicious made using store-bought filo (see Note)." Matthew Evans, For the Love of Meat
Made with a rich yoghurt cream pastry and brimming with a hearty steak and kidney filling, this is serious winter comfort food.
I used to make filo by stretching it out thinly like strudel dough, until I read Wild Weed Pie by famed Greek expat and one-time Sydney chef Janni Kyritsis. I’ve used his method for this, which is slightly sturdier, perfect for taking on a picnic. If you can’t get hold of nettles, substitute silverbeet or a mix of greens. We find eating nettles is a good way to clean up the paddocks.
This sprightly tart has a lovely lemon tang and the richness of cream. You will need a 24 cm tart pan with removable base to make this recipe.
Any leftover filling can be served as a stew with baked potatoes or frozen for up to 1 month. The pastry is an excellent short, savoury version that’s perfect for pies. You can use store-bought pastry, but this yoghurt cream version is what really makes this pie. Be careful, as it’s really short and it’s often best to simply press it into place rather than trying to roll it out, especially in warm weather.
Apples are in peak season during autumn and Matthew Evans’ apple and blackberry pie is a delicious way to use up your surplus. Lemon leaves add a citrus hint to the custard that works brilliantly with the blackberries in this pie.